Report on Black Philanthropy

Posted by Urban Institute on April 9, 2018

Despite the wealth gap, black philanthropy is strong

The well-documented and persistent racial wealth gap is itself great cause for concern. But it also leads to concern about the implications for broad participation in charitable giving—that is, whether people across income categories, professions, racial or ethnic identities, and age groups can meaningfully contribute their income and wealth to support social causes.

Taking a look at the latest available data on wealth and charitable giving, it is clear that black families, though hindered by a history of structural barriers and practices that have blocked asset building and wealth creation, are choosing to prioritize philanthropy. Of all racial or ethnic groups in the dataset, black families have contributed the largest proportion of their wealth—which can include savings, used cars, land, and investment accounts—to charity since 2010.

Why do black families give?
Although charitable giving is a highly personal decision, some sociocultural and historical factors shape philanthropic preferences among black donors—both individually and collectively—and may shed light on why we observe these differences in charitable giving through wealth.

From a sociocultural standpoint, high-net-worth black families are reportedly more likely to have family traditions around giving than their white counterparts. They also report more fulfillment from their charitable giving. These factors likely contribute to a lasting social commitment to give, even as income and wealth fluctuate.

From a historical and institutional perspective, black communities have robust networks and organizations that support and facilitate charitable giving and help maintain high levels of charitable participation.

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